Jan Van Eyck. Arnolfini Double Portrait. (1434)
Oil on wood, 33 X 22 ½”
The National Gallery, London
Jan van Eyck lived his life as a “valet de chambre”, which is basically a court painter. Van Eyck worked for John of Bavaria until 1425, which is coincidentally when John of Bavaria died. Then he went to work for Duke Philip the Good of Burgandy as a “valet de chambre” as well. Jan van Eyck was a well paid court employee when he first began work but within the first few years his salary was twice that of when he initially started. His salary and position in the court system made Van Eyck a successful artist in comparison to other Netherlands artists, whose survival was dependent upon what they made from paintings alone. Jan van Eyck did paintings for private customers outside of his salaried job. One thing that is unique about Van Eyck is that he signs his paintings in rare and unusual places, an example is the Arnolfini Double Portrait. The Arnolfini Double Portrait is an oil painting that was done on an oak panel that was dated by Van Eyck in 1434. This particular painting has been known by a couple of titles such as The Arnolfini Wedding, The Arnolfini Marriage and the Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife. This painting is not very large in size it measures 33 X 221/2” but it does have a large story to tell which is not exactly obvious in the painting itself. The painting is thought to be a portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife, in their home in the Flemish city of Bruges. This painting was bought by the National Gallery in London in 1842. Today the painting is in really good condition considering how old it is, the paint loss is minimal and has been touched up. Van Eyck used vertical and horizontal lines to show the depth of the room as well as the objects in the room.
At first glance, the painting is very realistic and depicts a man and a woman that are...